Interview With EFWA Upcycling Designer Camila Castillo, Camila X Castillo (Venezuela/U.S.)

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

I remember when I was sixteen years old seeing a dress by Azzedine Alaia , who was a master at cutting and pattern making. His dresses were very sensual , but not at all in an easy tight sexy cheap sort of way. I felt he used the female sensuality to empower women, which maybe at the time was the opposite of what the feminist movement was teaching us - to start clear of using our sensuality as a weapon or tool.  I did not feel this was wrong at all.

The way women feel about their bodies and the way men react to a women dressed a certain way is very intrigues me. I find it very interesting that the feminists would try to imply that dressing in this way could have an effect on how our intellects as human beings were perceived and I am totally against the notion that a women can't be attractive and intelligent at the same time . So I have always had a very strong sensual stance in my work. As well, I make great efforts to create interesting and original construction themes on the garments.  I feel that reflects an intellectual or artistic stance that for me is inescapable and intertwined with the sensual power .

I know you trained at Neumann school of graphic design and took pattern making courses at seamstress schools. Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion design. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?
When I design I think the hardest part of the process is coming up with an original and practical use of the material at hand.  That is resolved as an artist would tackle a project and then the silhouettes , and the spirit of power I convey in the pieces is much more automatic and easier for me .

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?
As a designer I think my brand is very very recognizable in the workmanship and artistic resolution of the pieces , which are very sculptural and have a strong artistic influence , maybe due to my love of all constructivist artists and my geometric mathematical skills which enable me to produce very intricate and interesting pieces but that all have a very sensual strong edge to them . A women using my garments usually even changes her posture , I have been told by clients that the slender cut of the pieces practically makes them change there posture and straighten their backs arch the hips because they automatically feel the power of the feminine form.

Even though the industry sort of puts you in the place of producing a collection with a them for each season , I have seen women use pieces from my first collection this last season and they been seamlessly with the new work , maybe a small change in the silhouette but I do not at all consider myself to be influenced by trends , I consider that part of the industry to be very fickle and something that was created artificially to boost sales , but not something designers change so quickly, like every 4 months they expect something different from creators and I find this absurd , the not letting the design evolve over time .so obviously my work is more custom than mass produced because each piece has a story and is basically much more timeless than brands that are more focused on trends .

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before?  If so, how?

I am thrilled as well to be a part of EFWA. As a matter of fact , I am no stranger to working with materials that I use simply because they are the materials I could find. There is for me no right "or wrong" material but correctly it incorrectly used materials . The material speaks to to in a way and will behave as it choose and it is your work as an artist or designer to hear it , so to say , and flow with what comes out when you star experimenting with it , folding it or ironing it cutting it etc something interesting starts to appear and you go with that .

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

For this show, as we have been told to try to make an everyday piece into something special - men's shirts for example. I believe and am experimenting with origami techniques to make the fabric of the garments more precious and feminine . It has been a challenge because I took up a particularly intricate pattern but I am very excited as to how it'll look when resolved .And then of course is the very feminine strong silhouette where I literally convert my models into warriors , powerful beautiful smart women , you know , so there's obviously going to be slot of that attitude in the final look!

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?
What I would most like women to know or leave as a thought for women the world round that see my work is our strengths as women, how much we have accomplished and how much we are capable of - to always know you are the only you in the world. Just try to be the best you that you can and do not worry on comparisons which other women. More beautiful, younger or brighter, it does not matter because you are the only one that can tell your unique story and that is what matters the most.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

To finish, my long term dreams are obviously to try and help women understand the importance we have in society. to not sell ourselves short ever. Maybe I won't be in fashion forever because there are other ways of getting my message across but while I am, I hope that a women using a Camila X Castillo garnet feels like the most beautiful women in the room and also feel there is nothing that she cannot accomplish if she puts her mind to it .

I really want to thank Marilyn R Wilson and EFWA for this unique opportunity. It comes at a very complicated moment in time when we are being reminded that not only do we deserve all the well treatment and respect in the world, so does our ravaged planet. It's great to remind everyone it's time to give back a little of what we have received from this beautiful place we live in and that is asking for our attention decades ago. Thank you very much .

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